“In defining sectarianism, the leaders of the SAP resort not to the Marxist criterion but to the trade unionist, that is, to the measure of bare numbers, “the mass”. They have failed to grasp the laws that govern the transition of a principled quality into a mass quantity; they have not pondered over the objective and subjective preconditions that are necessary for such a transition. This is how comrades of the SAP (*) often put the question. Why is it that, with correct principles, with a Marxist analysis of events and so forth, the Left Opposition remains so isolated? The answer is clear: because it lacks the skill off keeping quiet about its own principles and of adapting itself to different ones. Such an argument exposes completely the anti-historical, anti-dialectical and vulgar thinking of the critics themselves. Our great teachers, Marx and Engels, remained in a state of frightful political isolation from 1850 to 1864. The Russian revolutionists, with Lenin at their head, were cruelly isolated from 1907 to 1912, and as late as July 1914 their isolation assumed a character almost hermetic. Our critics, who are little given to meditation, have overlooked the following facts of no little importance: 1. The Russian Left Opposition, which expressed the most consistent, dynamic tendencies of the Russian proletariat, must have become weakened in proportion as the bureaucracy grew out of the revolution and pushed the proletariat into the background. 2. The Left Opposition, which expressed the connection between the October Revolution and the international revolution, must have become weakened in proportion as the weakness of the international revolution manifested itself. 3. The Left Opposition was dealt the first cruel blow immediately after the capitulation of the German Communist Party in 1923; the defeat of the Polish proletariat and of the English General Strike in 1926, by weakening the world proletarian vanguard, weakened the Left Opposition, the vanguard of the vanguard; the collapse of the Chinese Revolution of 1927 swung the scales decisively in favor of the theory and practice of “socialism in one country”; and finally, without dwelling on a whole series of intermediate events of the same type, the German catastrophe of 1933 dealt the cruelest blow to the world proletariat. With these unheard-of historical defeats as a background, the Opposition was able to educate by its theoretical analysis numerically small cadres, but could not lead the masses. 4. The decline and the demoralization of the Comintern could not but compromise, in the eyes of the masses, all revolutionary groupings, especially those that were connected with the Comintern by their origin. 5. Finally, one must add the eleven years’ campaign of slander organized by the Stalinist bureaucracy over the whole world. In the entire political history of mankind, there is hardly to be found a persecution so rich in financial resources and in apparatus, so systematic and persistent, so poisoned in content, and that, at the same time, was covered by the authority of the first workers’ state” (pag 201-203) [Leon Trotsky, ‘The SAP, the ICL and the Forth International. A Letter to a Group of Sap Comrades’, January, 11, 1934]  [(*) SAP Socialist Workers Party, Germany] [‘Writings of Leon Trotsky’, 1933-34, New York, 1972] [Lenin-Bibliographical-Materials] [LBM*]

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